Thistle Dancers, Pipers complete Medal Tests

Natchitoches area Scottish highland dancers, from The Thistle Dancers and Pipers’ dance school, took their Medal Tests with the British Association of Teachers of Dancing (BATD) for the very first time on June 2. All 21 dancers received top marks on all of their exams!

Diane Krugh, a Fellow and Examiner and member of the Executive Council of the BATD, came from Houston Texas to officiate the exams. Krugh is also an adjudicator for the Royal Scottish Official Board of Highland Dance and is on the Board of Directors and is the National Registrar for ScotDance USA (the organized body which oversees Highland Dance competitions in the US).

Scottish highland dances are commonly known as the solo dances of Scotland, as not to be confused with Scottish country dances which are danced in pairs and groups, similar to Square dancing in the US. During their Medal Tests, The Thistle Dancers were tested in the three recognized types of highland dances, the Highland, Scottish National, and Character dances. A few of the most notable Highland dances are the Highland Fling, the Solo Sword dance and the Seann Triubhas (Gaelic for Old Trousers). National dances include the Flora MacDonald’s Fancy and the Scottish Lilt, while the Sailor’s Hornpipe and Scottish Version of the Irish Jig make up the character dances. Medal Tests are set according to age and ability so the youngest Thistle Dancers (age 3) to the oldest (adults) took part. Each dancer will receive a Medal and a Certificate  for each of their exams from the BATD in Scotland.

The Thistle Dancers and Pipers have weekly lessons in Natchitoches, LA with their instructor, Susan Hyams. Hyams has been Scottish dancing since the age of 5 and playing bagpipes since 14. She grew up in Massachusetts and had a very successful Highland and bagpipe school in Northern Virginia prior to moving to Natchitoches with her husband, Collier Hyams, and family in 2016. Hyams is certified to teach Highland dance and is a Member in both Highland and Scottish National with the BATD and is a member of ScotDance USA.  Hyams restarted her Thistle Dancers and Pipers in Natchitoches in 2019 when five of her dancers made their debut at the NSU Folklife festival joining her husband’s world-fusion band, 50 Man Machine, on stage. The school has grown since then and is always welcoming new students in either Highland Dance or bagpipes. Susan Hyams can be contacted either by phone (571) 217-7705 or email for any inquiries about lessons or for hiring the group.